Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The Politics of M&A Antitrust

Mihir N. Mehta, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Suraj Srinivasan, Harvard Business School, Wanli Zhao, Renmin University of China identify The Politics of M&A Antitrust.

ABSTRACT: Antitrust regulators play a critical role in protecting market competition. We examine whether the political process affects antitrust reviews of merger transactions. We find that acquirers and targets located in the political districts of powerful U.S. congressional members who serve on committees with antitrust regulatory oversight receive relatively favorable antitrust review outcomes. To establish causality, we use plausibly exogenous shocks to firm–politician links and a falsification test. Additional findings suggest congressional members’ incentives to influence antitrust reviews are affected by three channels: special interests, voter and constituent interests, and ideology. In aggregate, our findings suggest that the political process adversely interferes with the ability of antitrust regulators to provide independent recommendations about anticompetitive mergers.

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